Curtis Wright, Timoney, Knox, Avrigian & Hasson, Ambler, for appellants.
Gilbert P. High, Jr., High, Swartz, Roberts & Seidel, Norristown, for appellee.
Jones, C. J., and Eagen, O'Brien, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ. Roberts, J., took no part in the consideration or decision of this case. O'Brien, J., filed an opinion in support of reversal which was joined by Jones, C. J., and Pomeroy, J. Manderino, J., filed an opinion in support of affirmance which was joined by Eagen and Nix, JJ.
The Court being equally divided, the order of the Commonwealth Court is affirmed.
OPINION IN SUPPORT OF AFFIRMANCE
The Township Commissioners were not acting in a judicial capacity when discipline was imposed on the appellants. They were acting in their executive capacity. The situation is no different than one in which a single executive officer (governor, mayor, cabinet officer), suspends or fires an employee. The executive officer may be, and in many cases is, the only witness to the conduct which allegedly requires discipline. The situation should be no different simply because the executive authority in Upper Moreland Township is vested in a collective group rather than in a single individual. Under the reasoning of the opinion in support of reversal, an executive official could never suspend or fire anyone -- even one who punched him personally in the mouth.
The employees in this case were entitled to judicial review after the executive suspension or firing. Such a judicial review was received, and the order of the Commonwealth Court should be affirmed.
Opinion IN SUPPORT OF ...